How an Obsession with Danger Embeds Itself in Everyday Life, Even When You Know It’s Insane

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How dhrbkrhnhh
does something become so normal no one even questions it? Something like shampooing daily, or eating whole wheat bread, or paying .95 for a coffee?

The process is gradual. Some people start doing it, then others join the crowd — or are prodded to join —  and eventually what was once unusual becomes the norm.

And many of those norms are great! Viva flossing! But some norms aren’t. Some are excessive, onerous, expensive or ridiculous activities that get woven into everyday life without our noticing. That’s what is happening with taking our kids out of the car, even when convenience (not a dirty word!) and actual safety dictate that letting them wait there a few minutes makes more sense. Hence, this note:

Dear Free-Range Kids: In Connecticut, I haul our 2-year-old out of her carseat and into the school cafeteria to pick up our 5-year-old at the after school care program.  I park directly outside the cafeteria, which has wide windows.  The vehicle is never out of my sight and I’m inside for 5 minutes at most.  On a rainy or snowy day (like today) it’s a real pain and the whole pickup would go faster if I didn’t have to go through the process of unbuckling, carrying her in, corralling her inside while the big kid gets her stuff, carrying her back out, and then having to strap the little one back in.

I do this because we live in a town where a couple of years ago the cops arrested a mother for leaving a very non-distressed 11-year-old in the car at the child’s request while she ran into a pharmacy, and I occasionally see a police cruiser in the school parking lot while a cop does paperwork.  I don’t think our 2-year-old would be harmed in any way by staying in a 5-point harness in a comfortably warm, locked car on a snowy day for 5 minutes while I run in to get her sister – but there’s no way I’m willing to risk it.

I don’t blame the mom for her worries about the cops. I blame the cops and CPS and lawmakers for creating this worry. How dare they second-guess parents who love their kids dearly and are making the kind of decision they are quite capable of making: Does doing X or Y make sense for my family?

Letting the authorities prod us into kabuki-like displays of parental responsibility is not something we can allow. In 20 years, it should not be normal to calculate first and foremost, “How will this look to the cops?” when we are deciding how to raise our kids — whether we will let them walk to school, ride their bikes, play outside or wait in the car.

We are the parents. Not the cops. Not CPS. Not even social norms.

I get a lot of notes from parents who cut and paste Facebook posts going on in their neighborhood about, “Can you believe this mom did XYZ?” followed by a pile-on of calumny. If you can stand it, try to add your own respectful point of view, so it doesn’t seem as if EVERYBODY is kowtowing to this age of fear and overreaction. 

Good luck! – L.

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Parents shouldn't feel they have to take their kids out of the car just to run in and out of the school.

Parents shouldn’t feel they have to take their kids out of the car just to run in and out of the school. 

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70 Responses to How an Obsession with Danger Embeds Itself in Everyday Life, Even When You Know It’s Insane

  1. James Pollock January 13, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    “Something like shampooing daily, or eating whole wheat bread, or paying $3.95 for a coffee?”
    Hmmm. I don’t do any of these things.

  2. marie January 13, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    …but I sure hope you floss, James. 🙂

  3. Nicole R. January 13, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    So true! I made my son go into stores with me looooong after he was capable of waiting in the car, not because I had any worry of actual danger, but to avoid the hassle and possible legal mess of someone ELSE “worrying” about him on my behalf. And I was straight-up honest with him that that was the reason, too! He deserved to know it wasn’t HIM I didn’t trust.

    The same pattern happens with reliance on technology, too. He was telling me the other day about a friend who doesn’t have a cell phone and said “I bet you wouldn’t let me do half of what I do now if I didn’t have one.” I thought about it, and he was partly right. I realized I DO give him a looser reign with a phone than I likely would without. – But it’s no looser than I had at his age, without one!! I rationalized that maybe it’s because there were pay phones then, and I could have called home if I needed to, but I think the fact that I can call him really does ease my mind. I have a new appreciation for my own parents dealing with their own worries so I could head out into the world.

  4. beanie January 13, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    Yep. I’ve been thinking about how next year, all the new kindergarten parents at my sons’ school will think it’s just normal, that’s-the-way-it’s-always-been, that they have to prove they haven’t been convicted of sexual assault every time they come on campus. Whereas, I’ve seen the change over the four and a half years to our campus becoming more and more of a fortress that doesn’t trust parents and tries to keep them out–all in the name of “safety.” They never tell us what these compelling safety reasons are–if things were so unsafe, if they really thought that child predators were roaming the halls all these years, why didn’t they tell us?

    I could stop volunteering, but quite frankly, I’m pretty sure the administration would be glad to get rid of me. Because I’ve begun asking questions and pushing back when they make a decree that’s illogical.

  5. James Pollock January 13, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    What a sharp turn we’ve had in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, we were openly critical of parents who decided their kids should be chaperoned heavily at sleep-away camp. Today, parents are not to be questioned in their judgment about their children.

  6. ChicagoDad January 13, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    I wonder if having something like a formal legal opinion letter on the issue would make a difference. Perhaps the National Association of Parents could commission one and offer it as a membership benefit.

    A qualified family attorney could write that in certain states, leaving a child in a car for a short errand is not, by itself, a crime or neglect. The letter probably wouldn’t help when an officer responds to a “child-in-car” call. But, if you can show a prosecutor, administrative hearing officer or judge that you acted with due caution and consulted an expert legal opinion before-hand, could it help get the charges dismissed? I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer…

  7. Anna January 13, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    “Yesterday, we were openly critical of parents who decided their kids should be chaperoned heavily at sleep-away camp. ”

    Actually, I thought yesterday’s post was initiated by a parent who did NOT believe his kids needed to be treated that way at their sleep-away camp they were interested in attending.

  8. Anna January 13, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    My own version of this mom’s issue: it often happens that by the time we get home from an afternoon outing, my 4-year-old son has fallen asleep in the car. The sleep is much needed, and he’s never been one to stay asleep while being transferred to bed – in fact, when we attempt that he wakes up hysterical and stays in a foul mood for hours.

    In a sane world, I’d crack the windows and let him finish his nap parked in our shady driveway while I keep an eye on him from our kitchen windows. But I never dare, because who knows if a neighbor would call the cops. (One of our neighbors sent the cops to our door one night because our son was crying about having to go to bed.)

  9. That_Susan January 13, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    From what I’ve heard about all the child accidents and deaths that were seen as acceptable in the past, I feel like what started out as a good initiative to take simple steps to prevent a lot of the tragedies that could be easily prevented, has now turned into a situation that’s too far in the other extreme. A child suffering an accidental death used to be seen as “fate” or “God’s will” — but now people are always in a big rush to blame the parents. The real truth is somewhere in the middle.

  10. Doug January 13, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    Toting the child and car seat over to the officer and asking him/her to watch the child while you get your other child probably isn’t the best option.

    And yet it seems like an attractive option to me.

    Trigger warning: doing what I do, think, or recommend will likely not make you any friends amongst people you shouldn’t be friends with anyways.

  11. Warren January 13, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    “What a sharp turn we’ve had in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, we were openly critical of parents who decided their kids should be chaperoned heavily at sleep-away camp. Today, parents are not to be questioned in their judgment about their children.”

    And yet one thing remains constant. James is and always will be an ass.

    My suggestion, is to print out the state’s statute and have it on display in the vehicle. With a reminder to the any officer that you will take things to court, and they will under the statute have to prove there was significant risk to the child’s health or safety.

  12. Ben January 13, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    I had to fight with myself last night, because I had to stop at the Grocery store to pick up a few things, and my 5yo son insisted vehemently that he wanted to stay in the car. I have zero problem with it, as my son is extremely self-reliant and knows how to unbuckle from his booster seat and get out of the car and come in and have me paged if there is a problem. But I knew that the cashier lines are often long and it might take me 10-15 minutes to get back to him, and I was terrified that some busybody would see him in the car and call the cops.

    In the end, I decided that my son was right, this is ridiculous and left him. I think it took about 12 minutes, my son was happy and no one saw him or said anything if they did. But I still feel like I lucked out, and I hate that I have to worry about something that was absolutely routine and banal when I was a kid.

  13. pentamom January 13, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Lots of people question shampooing daily. People are discovering that for some hair types, it’s not a good idea. It promotes oil production that would be less if the hair wasn’t stripped every day. And I pay $3.95 for a coffee on a less than yearly basis — I drink it mostly at home, and otherwise, from Tim Hortons or Panera where it’s closer to $2 or less.

    I know, I know, that’s not the point, but it’s interesting what assumptions are made when talking about what assumptions people make. 😉

  14. MichaelF January 13, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    “EVERYBODY is kowtowing to this age of fear and overreaction”
    This is exactly WHY I have a small Facebook following and keep all of my interactions there private. I don’t need to get involved in these inane arguments, and no desire to waste minutes of my day on them. I work in technology but outside of work am basically a luddite and will do everything I can to stay offline on my time off.

    For a nice alternate view, yesterday we stopped in for a conference for my youngest who is in Kindergarten at our neighborhood elementary school. They were concerned that he does not know all of his letters yet, though he has improved he needs more. My wife and I walked in with our kids when the bell rang, walked to class, then to our meeting, and even waved to our principal who we know well. On the way out I realized we NEVER signed in!

    No one died. No one called the cops. It was a normal day otherwise.

  15. Barb January 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    There is something fundamentally wrong with our system when we are more afraid of the government officials than we are of the so called dangers!

  16. Dean Whinery January 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    It appears the Granny State, in the guise of CPS, is out of control everywhere.

  17. Jay Beckwith January 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    Its not just cops but also peer pressure that makes “common sense” parenting a challenge. We may have to start promoting a “Parenting Rights” campaign that gives this legal teeth and due process. What would you put in such a declaration?

  18. Laura sauter January 13, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Don’t blame cops, they are just enforcing stupid laws that EVERYONE is responsible for. Laws need to change.

  19. Diane Campbell January 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    It seems even more “normal” to let the 5 year old walk out to the car on his or her own.
    As a long-time kindergarten teacher I know they can handle it.

  20. John January 13, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    I remember a few years back when I pulled up to the ATM at my bank, a lady had just pulled up ahead of me with her toddler in the car seat (just like the picture above). Well as I waited in my car for her to walk up to the ATM to get her money, I noticed that before walking up to the ATM which was just a few steps away, she struggled to unbuckle her toddler child strapped in his car seat and then with her child in one of her arms, she walks up to the ATM and with her free hand she gets her money, walks back to the car and then fumbles to strap her child back into his car seat before driving off.

    So I’m thinking, why did she need to do this? There was no way I’d have enough time to get out of my car, unstrap her kid, take him back to my car and pull away before she could do something about it. The weather that day was neither hot nor cold so there was no way the child would suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia in a one minute timeframe while his mom was getting her money.

    Now the litmus test the child advocates and legal people use in this situation is money. So they pose the question, “Would you leave a million dollars cash unattended in your car? If not, then why would you leave something more precious than money unattended in your car?” Well, my response to that would be that I’d be much more likely to leave my child unattended in the car for a measly minute than I would the money BECAUSE 999,999,999 out of 1,000,000,000 thieves are more likely to steal the money rather than the child because the money is much much more useful to them than is a kid!

  21. Jim January 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    We are not so much afraid of the police as we are of the rabid perfect parents or the busybody who calls them into the scene. This is where the pressure comes from. It originates from people who should just shut up and get a life, other than dictating to others. The average cop is much more relaxed and pragmatic than we give them credit for but they know how powerful self-righteous citizens can be when they rattle the cage of an elected District Attorney or the publicly-employed school principal.

  22. Beth January 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Lenore, I love the examples you led with! They are wonderful logical analogies.

    @James Pollack and @pentamom – the fact that there is dubious wisdom to engaging in these now-ubiquitous activities is exactly the point. I don’t wash my hair every day or pay $4 for coffee either. I suspect most people commenting here don’t. (And my kid has celiac, so we don’t buy bread either). And people know it’s bad for your hair and/or your household budget and/or your duodenum. The point is that people now have to be *educated* and *reminded* that these ubiquitous, normalized activities are actually kind of silly, self-sabotaging, and historically anomalous. Thus, many folks have to un-learn habits that probably should have never been adopted in the first place. Which is exactly what’s going on with the new take-your-tired-cranky-little-ones-out-of-the-warm-car-and-haul-them-flailing-through-the-busy-dark-wet-cold-parking-lot policies that have arisen by default ever since the police started arbitrarily and capriciously arresting frazzled moms.

    Also, I don’t want to take the bait from @James Pollack, but it’s worth crystallizing this very important point for others:

    There’s a big difference between, on the one hand, an *online forum of private citizens* expressing *verbal disagreement* about other parents’/educators’ judgments regarding sleepaway camp, and, on the other hand, the *government* chilling parents’ constitutionally-recognized freedom to exercise parenting decisions, by way of a real, particularized *threat of arrest.* (I also didn’t think the sleepaway camp story was really worthy of criticism/comment. I think it was just a slow news day. In the 90’s I went to sleepaway camp for gifted high school kids, and there were tons of needless rules. We thought it was funny and we speculated it was mostly because they didn’t want us getting preggers on their watch.)

  23. Warren January 13, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

    Okay, just for the record. People are showing their positions in society.

    And it is with something as simple as shampoo. Not everyone is a stay at home parent, works in a clean office setting and such environments. There are plenty of people that work in positions and careers that if you don’t shampoo at least once a day, you’re a pig. Hell I shower including shampoo at least twice a day, sometimes more.
    Between sweat, dirt, chemicals and wearing protective gear, there are lots of reasons to shampoo everyday.

    Though I do not spend 4 bucks on a single coffee, I probably average 8 bucks a day on coffee, just for myself.

  24. Beth January 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    @John says:

    “Now the litmus test the child advocates and legal people use in this situation is money. So they pose the question, ‘Would you leave a million dollars cash unattended in your car? If not, then why would you leave something more precious than money unattended in your car?’”

    I like John’s rebuttal (what are thieves going to do with a kid?), but I prefer another, slightly different variation on that rebuttal: Because we live in a society full of average people with moral consciences, not a jungle full of savages. And average people of average morality are MUCH more likely to justify to themselves stealing your money than justify stealing your kid.

    Ask someone, “If you saw a kid alone in a car, would you, personally, abduct that child?” Their answer will be no, of course not. But not because they have “no use” for a stolen kid, but because it’s so obviously, unspeakably morally wrong. Now, does that person think they are capable of resisting the urge to steal a child because they are some sort of moral hero or saint? Or rather, is that just the mainstream reaction of an average, decent person of mediocre moral fiber?

    Now imagine the “average” person walking by your unattended car. Are they a freakish moral monster? Or are they average? I submit that we should be allowed to assume — because it is a statistical fact — that the average person is of average height, of average intelligence, of average attractiveness, and most importantly OF AVERAGE MORALITY.

    The fact that stealing an unattended kid is so much more terrible and unspeakable than stealing unattended money is EXACTLY WHAT KEEPS AN UNATTENDED KID SAFE. Your unattended money might get stolen because ordinary people, of mediocre morality, might not be able to resist the temptation to steal it. But the same ordinary people with mediocre consciences would never even think of stealing a child because, even if they had an incentive (let’s say, ransom money), their moral compass will tell them it’s terribly, freakishly wrong. And the same average-moral-fiber test applies to average bystanders as well: The average bystander witnessing a theft of money might think, well, its none of my business, why put myself at risk? But if they saw a child abduction in progress they would be far more likely to intervene.

    I think one of Lenore’s strongest recurring themes is the idea that the law should allow us to assume that other people, even STRANGERS, are average ordinary law-abiding citizens. And average ordinary people don’t steal children. We should be allowed to assume this, not merely because that’s the way criminal law has always worked in a free society (If I am sexually assaulted while in a dangerous setting, I am not “guilty” for failing to anticipate that I would be assaulted), but also because in the overwhelming majority of cases, people are in fact average and ordinary. And the freakish exceptions may be a source of lamentation, or occasional paranoia, but should never be the source of shaping public policy in mundane everyday life.

  25. En Passant January 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    Jim January 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    We are not so much afraid of the police as we are of the rabid perfect parents or the busybody who calls them into the scene. This is where the pressure comes from. It originates from people who should just shut up and get a life, other than dictating to others.

    This hits the nail on the head.

    Unfortunately busybodies who complaint to police or other enforcement agencies are usually kept secret by law.

    However, if a small group of like minded people is determined to find out who the busybody is, they often can.

    Then it is very easy to give the busybody a good taste of his own medicine. Busybodies are cowards who will often back down if faced with actual consequences for their actions.

  26. Momof8 January 13, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    That’s me, exactly. I don’t know of anyone in our town getting in trouble for it, but there’s always a cop around. I have 6 kids in five schools, so a lot of in and out. I feel like a wimp. But do it anyway. This has opened my eyes to the fact that I should have a conversation with the cop about it. There aren’t any laws in SD that prohibit any child of any age sitting in the car, but that can also imply that it’s open to interpretation.

  27. BL January 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    @Beth
    “And average people of average morality are MUCH more likely to justify to themselves stealing your money than justify stealing your kid.”

    It’s more extreme than that. Child molesters are targets in prisons because even people who would slit your throat to steal your wallet don’t like people who mess with children.

  28. Liz January 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

    Connecticut is a state of contradictions. We have a very liberal homeschooling policy and no set age when I child can suddenly be safely left at home, as in both cases the state believes that it’s best for the parents to decide. Then in Ridgefield a baby dies when the father forgets them in a car and goes to work, and suddenly “WE NEED A LAW TO STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING!” So while a young child may be left home alone, an 11-year-old can’t be left in the car while the mom picks up pizza or grabs a gallon of milk from a gas station.
    Tell her to avoid Fairfield. It seems like every other week a parent is getting arrested there for leaving an 11-year-old in the car.

  29. pentamom January 13, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

    Warren: of course many people have reasons to shampoo every day.

    And many people don’t. So I didn’t perceive it as true that “nobody questions it.” I didn’t say there was anything terrible about it.

    Beth — thanks, that makes sense. I guess I did miss the point.

  30. James Pollock January 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    “There’s a big difference between, on the one hand, an *online forum of private citizens* expressing *verbal disagreement* about other parents’/educators’ judgments regarding sleepaway camp, and, on the other hand, the *government* chilling parents’ constitutionally-recognized freedom to exercise parenting decisions, by way of a real, particularized ‘threat of arrest.’*

    I believe Lenore’s point was the first leads direction to the second. Repetition leads to perception, perception leads to reality.

    On the other hand, “constitutionally-recognized”???

  31. Nicole R. January 13, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

    “I think one of Lenore’s strongest recurring themes is the idea that the law should allow us to assume that other people, even STRANGERS, are average ordinary law-abiding citizens. And average ordinary people don’t steal children. We should be allowed to assume this, not merely because that’s the way criminal law has always worked in a free society (If I am sexually assaulted while in a dangerous setting, I am not “guilty” for failing to anticipate that I would be assaulted), but also because in the overwhelming majority of cases, people are in fact average and ordinary. And the freakish exceptions may be a source of lamentation, or occasional paranoia, but should never be the source of shaping public policy in mundane everyday life.” – Beth

    Very well put!!

  32. Warren January 13, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    ” Repetition leads to perception, perception leads to reality.”

    Unfortunately James proves this theory inaccurate, because he is fond of repeating himself over and over, and yet it still never becomes reality or the truth.

  33. Steve S January 13, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    Ha, Warren, you are correct!

    As for not blaming cops, why not? They have discretion and are not required to arrest or ticket every violation they come in contact with.

  34. hineata January 14, 2016 at 2:11 am #

    I laughed at the coffee example. If I were a coffee drinker, I would need to pay $4.50+ per cup. I prefer hot chocolate, which costs the same, but which is too rich to drink every day… And a hot chocolate in Zurich at Starbucks was something like 7.50 Swiss francs (which are worth a lot more than our money….needless to say I didn’t drink hot chocolate in Switzerland ☺).

  35. Jens January 14, 2016 at 4:45 am #

    @hineata:
    A good quality thermos mug that eliminates the need for those starbucks coffees is some of the best investments ever 😉

    Then again, i would never pay that much for a coffee in first instance, on principle. That’s what a pack of cigarettes used to cost just some years ago where i live – for a cup of coffee that will last only 15 minutes! And yet people say that smoking is expensive…

    As long as people are willing to buy coffee at such outrageous prices the prices will continue to rise.
    And a cup of $4 coffee on the way to work every morning sums up to $800 per year. That’s one monthly rent payment, or perhaps even one monthly mortgage payment, just for the starbucks coffee! Crazy!

  36. J.T. Wenting January 14, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    “There is something fundamentally wrong with our system when we are more afraid of the government officials than we are of the so called dangers!”

    That’s what you get when the government officials ARE the danger…

    “Unfortunately James proves this theory inaccurate, because he is fond of repeating himself over and over, and yet it still never becomes reality or the truth.”

    James of course have convinced himself through repeating himself that what he says is true, so in the very limited universe of what passes for his brain it is true 😉

    “As long as people are willing to buy coffee at such outrageous prices the prices will continue to rise.
    And a cup of $4 coffee on the way to work every morning sums up to $800 per year. That’s one monthly rent payment, or perhaps even one monthly mortgage payment, just for the starbucks coffee! Crazy!”

    It’s also 15 minutes a day for a bachelor he doesn’t have to wait for the coffee to be ready to put in the thermos to drink on the way to work, allowing him 15 minutes longer in bed or the shower.
    Time is money, and for a lot of people $4 to spend another 15 minutes in bed in the morning is well worth it.
    Of course I don’t drink coffee, but I buy bottled orange juice at the supermarket to drink on the way to work which is also a lot more expensive than filling a bottle or cup myself but again the convenience factor is worth the money to me.

  37. Mrs. H January 14, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    The last hair product I bought was a glaze for brunettes, and the instructions said it’s best to use the glaze after every shampoo, but “if you can’t do that at least use it three times a week.” I couldn’t believe they were assuming people shampoo MORE than three times a week.

    Also, leaving the kids in the car is fine.

  38. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 8:26 am #

    “James of course have convinced himself through repeating himself that what he says is true, so in the very limited universe of what passes for his brain it is true ”

    … just keep repeating it, and eventually it’ll be true, eh? Let’s give it a try…

    Warren won’t be a dick to someone today.

    Warren won’t be a dick to someone today

    Warren won’t be a dick to someone today

    Warren won’t be a dick to someone today

    Warren won’t be a dick to someone today

    (Is it working yet? No, of course not…)

    “It’s also 15 minutes a day for a bachelor he doesn’t have to wait for the coffee to be ready to put in the thermos to drink on the way to work,”
    If you’re buying $4 coffee, you’re probably waiting in line for 15 minutes.

  39. Beth January 14, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    You’ve just got no self-awareness at all, do you, James?

  40. lollipoplover January 14, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    “You’ve just got no self-awareness at all, do you, James?”

    *Spits cheap, home brewed coffee out of nose.

    I’m reminded of the Great Gazoo from the Flinstones (who ruined a perfectly awesome cartoon) when I read certain comments on here, as if we are all the dumdums.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-VnIwvY47c

  41. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    “You’ve just got no self-awareness at all, do you, James?”

    I don’t particularly care what your opinion is, Beth. Is that the same thing?

    I mean, I’m still reading yours, unlike Warren’s and his good personal buddy trollbuster’s, but that’s mostly because of not bothering to remember who you are well enough to skip over your contributions.

    Anyone who chooses to read what I have to say has made their choice. Don’t read it if you don’t like it.

    Still reading? Guess that settles that, then.

  42. BL January 14, 2016 at 9:03 am #

    @James Pollock
    “Still reading? Guess that settles that, then.”

    https://xkcd.com/386/

  43. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    Wow… is that you?

  44. Katie January 14, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    Well, it is hard to say it is all fear based. Some, probably many of the calls take advantage of the current helicopter parent laws. For example, some could call CPS/police if they see a child left in an SUV, because they are sick of selfish SUV drivers who don’t care if their stupid gas guzzlers are over 50 percent more likely to kill pedestrians, causing all kinds of other problems, and bully those who try to point this out to them.

  45. Liz January 14, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    tint your windows, we did and it makes me rest easier. No one can see inside unless they place their heads on the glass and I can leave my 6-year-old int he car without worry. I also do not take my 1 and 3 year old inside the school at pickup, I’m gone for 3-5 minutes. It takes longer to unbuckle and buckle them both in.

  46. Warren January 14, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Katie,

    SUV’s are the gas guzzlers? Wow you have a great deal to learn. Give you and example, my ’67 Pontiac gets to my best calculations around 8 mpg at cruising speed. When I let that baby loose, well let us just say you might as well just be pouring gas down the intake with a jerry can. Goes down to about 2 mpg. No pollution control on it either. Just an awesome sounding muffler, that gives my baby that distinctive Pontiac growl.

    But thanks for reminding me, it is about time to go out and fire her up, just to let her run for awhile. It won’t be going out on the roads, as it hasn’t seen a winter in years, and never will again. But she needs to be fired up on a regular basis, and just sit there idling for awhile. Keeps it in shape.

  47. Vicki Bradley January 14, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    I’m usually on your side, Warren, but not when it comes to people leaving their cars to idle. Even if the person doesn’t care about the environment, don’t they care that they’re wasting their own gas/money. And, ask any mechanic, idling is bad for your engine, even in the winter to “warm” it up. Automatic car starters should be banned, as far as I’m concerned.

  48. Warren January 14, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Vicki,

    Don’t have to ask a mechanic. I rebuilt that engine from the block up myself. There is a difference between letting your everyday driver to warm up so that you are getting into a warm interior, and starting and running an engine for 15 minutes every couple of weeks, because your classic car will not be used for the duration of the winter. Seals, gaskets, belts and such dry out and rot without use.

    As for our trucks idling at work sites, they are diesel and designed to idle.

    And not all gas engines are designed the same. Take Harley Davidson for example. The design their engines to run at low speed, what they call parade speed, as well as idle for long periods of time. As a matter of fact they test them in Arizona in a four wall cubicle under the Arizona sun. They put them in the cubicle, and leave them idle for hours.

  49. lollipoplover January 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    “For example, some could call CPS/police if they see a child left in an SUV, because they are sick of selfish SUV drivers who don’t care if their stupid gas guzzlers are over 50 percent more likely to kill pedestrians, causing all kinds of other problems, and bully those who try to point this out to them.”

    We could turn this into a drinking game, how long does it take before Katie goes on another SUV rant.

    What about the children who tag along with that “selfish SUV driver” to help unload the entire SUV interior and carry it inside, trash bags filled to the brim with community and school donations (winter coats, bedding, toiletries) for families at the domestic shelter? Renting moving trucks/vans is expensive. Volunteering my pedestrian- bloodbath of an SUV to get the goods to the people who need it the most is the least I could do.But I guess that makes me an asshole..and a bully?

    That stupid gas guzzler that drives a turnpike leg on a dog rescue transport? All kinds of problems when I use that roomy cabin to get 1-3 dog in large crates from high kill shelters into safe foster homes. Yes, saving the lives of discarded dogs makes me one selfish jerk.

  50. Emily January 14, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    So, Starbucks coffee is expensive, too many people see the world through a lens of “danger,” and James and Warren are fighting again. None of this is news to me.

  51. Vicki Bradley January 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    @Warren

    I stand corrected 🙂

  52. Steve January 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    Lenore said:

    “The process is gradual. Some people start doing it, then others join the crowd — or are prodded to join — and eventually what was once unusual becomes the norm. And many of those norms are great! Viva flossing! ”

    ——-

    I can imagine that sometime in the future parents could be arrested for allowing your child to FLOSS.

    Why?

    Because “over time” stories would appear, and doctors would weigh in on the dangers that accompany flossing:

    1.) The danger of choking on floss

    2.) the danger of cutting your gums and getting a life-threatening infection

    3.) the danger of severe allergy to certain kinds of floss

    … you name it. Bloggers would write scare-stories, TV news people would interview grieving parents who lost their child to a gum infection. Laws would be changed. School teachers would inform on parents who were still allowing their children to floss on their own. The law would read, “No child under the age of 16 can legally floss his or her own teeth without an adult (female) present at all times.”

    I know this sounds stupid, but knowing the stories posted on this blog, we know this could actually happen.

    In fact, I can imagine that someone could marshall a team of writers to plant stories all over Facebook and the net about the dangers of allowing your child to floss. If done right, in less than a year, we could have legislation outlawing flossing by unattended children.

    Look at all the idiotic stories of supposedly educated people standing by their irrational fearmongering.

    “Anything” you think is normal and safe today can be presented in a convincing way to inspire new laws of stupidity. It’s happening all the time.

    Of course the new anti-flossing laws would inspire political factions for and against flossing, investigations into the big money behind floss manufacturing and a list of dentists who were getting rich off their investments in Big Floss would become Big News for a few seconds…

    A blog would be launched called: Free Range Kids Flossing

  53. Vicki Bradley January 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Steve, your post is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time because you’re absolutely right – pick any topic and it can become the next child-endangering “bogeyman.”

  54. Beth2 January 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Oops, looks like there’s more than one Beth, so from now on, I will be Beth2!

    I have no idea whether Mr. Pollack is self-aware or not, so I have no comment on that. My comments are the more long-winded ones about the law.

    In reference to his question about “constitutionally-recognized rights” of parents, it would have been more accurate for me to say “judicially-recognized constitutional rights” of parents since they are repeatedly recognized in US Supreme Court case law but not in the explicit text of the Constitution itself. Yes, there are numerous US Sup Ct cases recognizing that parents have a fundamental right to educate and raise their children without unreasonable government interference. So, the government can’t force kids to go to public school instead of religious school, can’t forbid you from teaching your kid German even if we’re at war with Germany, etc, just to take a few specific cases. There’s a good rundown of the cases on this website, which seems to be a homeschooling advocacy group that I know nothing about and have no connection to, but their summary of the case law looks accurate based on what I remember in law school:

    http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000075.asp

  55. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    The problem with judicially-recognized rights is that they can evaporate if different judges are involved. (Yes, even USSC).

  56. idea2go January 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    This seems like a great opportunity! Can you (the letter writer) talk to the cop one day while he’s there and not in “there’s a problem” mode? He might see the situation and agree with you how reasonable and safe it would be for you to do a quick pickup. If he’s the regular there he’ll know about you and if he’s not then you have that conversation as “back up” if a problem happens later.

    p.s. What’s wrong with whole wheat bread?

  57. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    “James and Warren are fighting again”

    We are? Am I winning? I haven’t read a word he’s written in weeks, if not months.

  58. hineata January 15, 2016 at 1:03 am #

    @Jens – so true! ☺. Unfortunately we down here in God’s own country are conditioned to pay exorbitant amounts of money just to live….or so it seems some days. That’s the joys of living in a small economy, albeit in a pretty beautiful and very free part of the world (that distance from everywhere else being a big advantage peace- and freedom-wise ☺).

    Enough of my blatant patriotic bias. Am in ‘danger’ of developing an ‘insane obsession’…☺.

  59. BL January 15, 2016 at 6:46 am #

    @James Pollock
    “I haven’t read a word he’s written in weeks, if not months.”

    Uh, you quoted him and commented on it just yesterday.

    (Without reading?)

  60. James Pollock January 15, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    ““I haven’t read a word he’s written in weeks, if not months.”
    Uh, you quoted him and commented on it just yesterday.
    (Without reading?)”

    At the risk of being confrontational and argumentative (horrors)…
    Uh, no, I didn’t. WTF are you on about?

  61. Vicki Bradley January 15, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    @James Pollock

    Uh, you did quote Warren, on January 14 @ 8:26

  62. Warren January 15, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    BL,

    Like always James skirts around taking responsibility. He didn’t actually quote me, he quoted someone that agreed with me, about James being an ass.

    Although he did mention me in his comment. The transparent thing about James is that he is definitely a keyboard warrior. Because their is no way he would get away with talking to people in person, the way he does in here.

  63. James Pollock January 15, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    J.T. Wenting and Warren are the same person?

    http://www.freerangekids.com/how-an-obsession-with-danger-embeds-itself-in-everyday-life-even-when-you-know-its-insane/#comment-404142

    I quoted J.T. Wenting, twice on January 14 @8:26.

  64. BL January 15, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    @James Pollock
    “I quoted J.T. Wenting, twice on January 14 @8:26.”

    Let’s see. The quote beginning “Unfortunately James proves this theory inaccurate …” comes from Warren’s post at 7:33 Jan 13.

    It’s true that JT Wenting also quoted it, and maybe you cut and pasted from there, but you were under no illusions that you were quoting JT because your reply was a long string of “Warren won’t be a dick to someone today.”

  65. James Pollock January 15, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    “It’s true that JT Wenting also quoted it, and maybe you cut and pasted from there”

    Maybe?

  66. Warren January 15, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    BL,

    Let it go. We all know that James just repeats other people’s comments, because the daft bugger cannot come up with any original material. Not an original thought in his head.

  67. Another Katie January 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    I was the original poster of that on another story recently. To answer a few questions:

    I can’t have the 5 year old come out to the car herself because the after school program requires that students are signed out by a parent or other approved adult. I understand why they have this rule and have no desire to fight it.

    The next time I see the cop car sitting in the lot I’ll go ask him – Connecticut’s law about children left in cars is very vague and open to interpretation. One cop’s perfectly safe situation is another’s dangerous one, particularly if a nosy bystander is the one calling it in to the police. Since a baby was forgotten and died in a hot car a year or two ago, police have been ticketing/arresting more and more parents for leaving non-distressed kids in cars for brief periods of time, including kids who are certainly old enough to take care of themselves.

    Frankly, having to hire a lawyer to defend us and deal with DCF would cost money that we don’t really have. The fear of expensive legal bills is enough for me to not be willing to take the chance.

  68. Barry Lederman January 16, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    I was born in 1957 in Brooklyn NY. My mother told me that when I was a baby, it was the norm for women to go shopping in a store, or eat in a luncheonette while their babies were outside on the sidewalk in their carriages.

    There is no reason not to do that today – other than cops, cps, and idiot do-gooders.

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